. TRACKING MILES AND BAGGAGE | Meetings & Conventions


Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio September 2002 Current Issue
September 2002 On TravelPLANNER'S PORTFOLIO:

On Travel

By Sarah J.F. Braley


How to manage multiple mileage programs...Luggage shipping services

Miles to go. Most business travelers are expected to take the lowest fare, rather than choose their preferred airline or hotel. Thus, they accumulate frequent-flyer miles for several carriers and multiple hotel companies, not to mention credit-card points. How to handle all of the bonuses?

Two pay services help travelers keep track of their virtual earnings. Mileage Miner from MaxMiles (www.maxmiles.com) automatically updates all account balances from airlines, hotels and credit cards; analyzes current reward offers; searches for missing credits; keeps track of expiration dates; and sends out e-mail reports, which are also available online. The service is offered free for a three-month trial period, after which it costs $29.95 a year.

MileageManager (www.mileagemanager.com) is a less expensive option, at $14.95 a year. Its offerings are similar to MileageMiner and include automatic e-mail notifications about expiring miles or award levels achieved.

To learn all you would want to know about various frequent-flyer programs, visit WebFlyer (www.webflyer.com). The site has program news, reviews, deals and links to all the major points programs, including redemption services like ClickRewards (www.clickrewards.com).

FrequentFlier.com (www.frequentflier.com) houses a wealth of information on how to choose a mileage program, how to enroll and how to maximize your miles. The site also has a section on credit-card points as well as an e-mail newsletter called the FrequentFlier Crier.

To combine your miles and use them as partial payment for goods and services online, check into MilePoint (www.milepoint.com). The site’s partners include Continental, Delta and Northwest airlines, American Express, Hilton and Marriott. Miles can be used for online purchases at such sites as Amazon and Sky Mall.

Baggage burden. For travelers who need to adhere to a stringent timetable, the convenience of carrying luggage aboard can be outweighed by time-consuming luggage screening. To resolve the dilemma, a number of travel suppliers have partnered with shipping services to save hassle time for flyers.

Seabourn Cruise Line has paired with DHL Worldwide to create Personal Valet luggage shipping. Guests’ baggage is picked up at their homes and delivered to their suite aboard the ship.

Fairmont Hotels & Resorts has teamed with Universal Express Inc.’s Virtual Bellhop service. Fairmont guests call (800) 766-8535 to schedule a pickup for next-day or two-day delivery. Members of the hotel company’s frequent-stay program, Fairmont President’s Club, receive discounts of 10 to 20 percent.

Risk-taking gender. Think men are more adventurous than women? Think again. According to the 2002 Yesawich, Pepperdine & Brown/Yankelovich Partners National Travel Monitor, more women than men prefer new, different and varied vacation experiences.

When asked what they were looking for in a leisure travel experience, 86 percent of women chose “a place I have never visited before,” compared with 77 percent of the men. More women also chose “learning a new skill or activity” (43 percent to 30 percent) and, strangely perhaps, “being able to gamble” (27 percent to 22 percent). Women also were more likely to look for the spa experience (34 percent to 28 percent).

Fewer bumps. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that the 10 largest U.S. airlines have reduced the number of people bumped from flights this year. During the second quarter, .65 people were bumped per 10,000 passengers, compared with .80 for the first quarter of the year and .88 for the second quarter of 2001. The 10 airlines are Alaska, American, American Eagle, America West, Continental, Delta, Northwest, Southwest, United and US Airways.

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